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Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

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Plants drooping? Not enough water or is it my compost mix? #2

Post  RosemaryPlants on 5/29/2016, 5:58 pm

Hello fellow SFG! This is my first year using the SQF method and second years gardening. We bully beautiful raised garden beds covering half our yard. They were doing great until this last week. Then they all started getting droopy. Am I just not watering enough? 

We went with this mix: 

Als Premium 3 way garden mix: mixture of top grade sphagnum peat moss, fine bark and pumice, mixed with aged composted plant material from Al's growing operations and stores. then combined with composted manure.  Adds microbial activity that plants thrive on  Perfect for new plantings and amending soil.

I thought from what I've read that I should be fine with this even though it's not exactly Mels Mix. Financially this was all that made sense for us to get. I called the garden center who have "plant experts" and asked if maybe my broccoli and cauliflower have a root beetle... They don't! But he said what I planted in was not providing nutrients and I needed to add in garden/top soil. What are your thoughts? 

I'm thinking I try watering more (though the soil feels damp when I put my finger down) and maybe apply a kelp or seaweed fertilizer? My compost bins haven't been able to get hot enough for me to use yet.
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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/29/2016, 9:26 pm

From your description, it sounds as though you have enough hydration, but lack nutrients.

I'd find a way to add a couple of other composts, one plant-based and the other manure based, but without added peat moss, rice hulls, etc. 

You did not use an actual Mel's Mix, although I do understand your financial constraints.

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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/29/2016, 9:46 pm

RP, can you post a picture? Are the plants growing? Are they green? Is the new growth green?

glad you\'re here by the way!
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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  sanderson on 5/30/2016, 3:57 am

Hi Rosemary,  Welcome to the Forum from California!   glad you\'re here

Al's 3-way mix is only 15% organic material with 85% soil [dirt].  Mel's Mix is 33% compost, or twice as much. And that is only when you first make Mel's Mix.  After that, all you do is add more 5-blend compost that you pull together.  As the compost is what feeds the plants, the garden center man may be correct in that it is not nutritious enough.  You can top dress with bagged composts such as chicken or steer manure compost, Ecoscraps compost (Home Depot), Whole Foods veggie-based compost, mushroom compost, or worm casting, kelp meal, Espoma organic garden Tone.  Composts also really help hold water.  I will tell you right now, that you are not the only folks that tried to do SFG without investing in the 7 ingredients, me included! Embarassed   For me, I used 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 fluffed peat moss and 1/3 Kellogg's bagged mix!  Evil or Very Mad  After just a few weeks, everything stopped growing!  I had to use weak fertilizer to keep things going until I could round up bagged composts and start my own compost pile.

However, you stated that the plants are drooping but the soil is moist.  What is your weather like?  Are you having a sudden heat?  Please post some photos to help us see what is going on.

You also mentioned that your compost pile is not heating up.  It takes a balance of browns (carbon) and greens (nitrogen), water, and a large enough volume for it to heat up.  Maybe you can also describe what you did to build the pile.  If you use the Search box, you will find 300 threads on compost!!  That's how important compost is. Here are just 2 threads.

http://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t9365-are-you-a-hottie?highlight=are+you+a+hottie

for a fast batch:  http://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=compost+101

We are here to help so provide info and photos to help us figure out ways to improve your situation. Very Happy

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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/1/2016, 7:01 am

Hi Rosemary. Welcome from Atlanta, GA. You've certainly come to the right place.

I'd have to agree that your plants have run out of nutrients. Same thing happened to me my first year. And for the same reason: Didn't set up exactly according to Mel. (For the same reason, btw.)

Please don't use top soil. Go with NUTRIENTS - you might try the kelp/seaweed/fish emulsion. You might also try blood meal, bone meal, etc. Look at the directions carefully before you go spending money & putting too much on there...
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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  FeedMeSeeMore on 6/2/2016, 9:48 am

I'll  second the seaweed suggestion. A teaspoon of kelp powder in a gallon of water and used generously is my first go to fix for anything that's not doing well. Works miracles in many cases. I also have to shade my plants when the sun gets too intense. They droop badly even though the soil is wet. Do the plants wilt and then recover when sun goes down? Sanderson's idea for top dressing sounds like a winner, too. Anything that gets the good soil microbes activated.
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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  has55 on 6/2/2016, 10:14 am

how long can you grow cool weather crops like broccoli in Oregon before they bolt? If it's getting hot, then they won't stand straight and tall, except in the morning and night after they are not exposed to sunlight. What is your temperature range now? 
If temp is cool 40's-lower 70's use the seaweed, kelp, fish emulsion for a pick me up. Use compost tea to get the protozoa's, beneficial nematodes and earthworms to eat the fungi and bacteria, thus releasing the nutrient into the plant root zone. You don't need to add top soil. Compost yes, topsoil no. basically eliminate that from your mel mix recipe. If the manure was not sterile, it will inoculate the soil, but compost tea will cause an explosion of the beneficial microbes that you need.
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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

Post  camprn on 6/2/2016, 9:34 pm

When you can post a photo of your droopy plants please do. Little plants don't need a lot of water, so go sparingly until they get bigger.

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Re: Rookie with drooping plants.. Water or my compost mix? #1

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